David Jackson, managing director of Hudson Contract Services in Bridlington, on his passion for village cricket.
Village cricket is my passion. Quintessentially English and best played in Yorkshire in my view. In the Bridlington district evening leagues it’s the original Twenty20 game between local village sides.
I’d not played cricket since my schooldays when I was asked to join the Burton Agnes team, who were down to just seven players back in 2001. Truthfully, I must admit that I can’t play cricket with any genuine ability whatsoever, but I have a great passion for the game and have watched both Yorkshire and England for many years.
“Can you play and can you bring any mates?” was the question asked. So, roping in seven friends, we joined the team and helped make the rest of the season an enjoyable one, despite falling from division 3 to 4 as a result of propping up the league.
In the close-season, I was elected manager of the team and saw my task as developing a strong sense of “belonging” to the club. It seems to me that cricket is an integral part of village life which should be preserved or enhanced wherever possible. So I took a three-fold approach. First, make sure we are always able to field a full side of enthusiastic cricketers. Second, keep the village stalwarts in the team or alongside as 12th men and third, develop a unique culture and identity for the club.
In developing the ethos of the team, we discovered that the forerunners of today’s team are alleged to have been watched briefly by Queen Victoria herself. Admittedly, the account may have been embellished over the years but it seems the men of Agnes Cricket were once viewed as being quintessentially English by the most Royal of passing spectators.
The ‘Royal’ Burton Agnes Cricket Club as a result has many unique features that helps maintain interest in the team. For instance, our skipper now dons a garish striped blazer for the toss each match.
He usually wears it to lead us to the village pub after each game too. We have a ‘port moment’ every match where a bottle of port is awarded to a player making a singularly daft or outstanding contribution to the game.
This year’s enthusiastic side includes Albert Boynton, a life-long villager now 60 years young and keen as ever to take the field. Albey also looks after the square and ensures that the wicket is ready for play. Whilst Tom Norman at 15 is our youngest and probably most talented player.
I’d like to think that if the veteran broadcaster of Test Match Special, the late Brian Johnston could comment on our approach to the game, he’d say something like: “What a joy it is watching these Agnes chaps. Passionate about their cricket and very obviously enthusiastic. They play the game for fun, which is just the way village cricket should be played.”